Evaluating cost-effectiveness of diagnostic equipment: the brain scanner case.
An approach to evaluating the cost-effectiveness of high-technology diagnostic equipment has been devised, using the introduction of computerised axial tomography (CAT) as a model. With the advent of CAT scanning, angiography and air encephalography have a reduced, though important, role in investigating intracranial disease, and the efficient use of conventional equipment requires the centralisation of neuroradiological services, which would result in major cash savings. In contrast, the pattern of demand for CAT scanning, in addition to the acknowledged clinical efficiency of the scanner and its unique role in the head-injured patient, ephasies the need for improved access to scanners. In the interest of the patients the pattern of service must change. (+info)
The business value of health care information technology.
The American health care system is one of the world's largest and most complex industries. The Health Care Financing Administration reports that 1997 expenditures for health care exceeded one trillion dollars, or 13.5 percent of the gross domestic product. Despite these expenditures, over 16 percent of the U.S. population remains uninsured, and a large percentage of patients express dissatisfaction with the health care system. Managed care, effective in its ability to attenuate the rate of cost increase, is associated with a concomitant degree of administrative overhead that is often perceived by providers and patients alike as a major source of cost and inconvenience. Both providers and patients sense a great degree of inconvenience and an excessive amount of paperwork associated with both the process of seeking medical care and the subsequent process of paying for medical services. (+info)
Personalized health care and business success: can informatics bring us to the promised land?
Perrow's models of organizational technologies provide a framework for analyzing clinical work processes and identifying the management structures and informatics tools to support each model. From this perspective, health care is a mixed model in which knowledge workers require flexible management and a variety of informatics tools. A Venn diagram representing the content of clinical decisions shows that uncertainties in the components of clinical decisions largely determine which type of clinical work process is in play at a given moment. By reducing uncertainties in clinical decisions, informatics tools can support the appropriate implementation of knowledge and free clinicians to use their creativity where patients require new or unique interventions. Outside health care, information technologies have made possible breakthrough strategies for business success that would otherwise have been impossible. Can health informatics work similar magic and help health care agencies fulfill their social mission while establishing sound business practices? One way to do this would be through personalized health care. Extensive data collected from patients could be aggregated and analyzed to support better decisions for the care of individual patients as well as provide projections of the need for health services for strategic and tactical planning. By making excellent care for each patient possible, reducing the "inventory" of little-needed services, and targeting resources to population needs, informatics can offer a route to the "promised land" of adequate resources and high-quality care. (+info)
Locality commissioning: how much influence have general practitioners really had?
This paper investigates the various models of locality commissioning in relation to the participation of general practitioners (GPs), and explores the perceived successes of locality commissioning in the 15 health boards in Scotland and 13 health authorities in the Northern and Yorkshire Region of England. A postal questionnaire was sent to 190 individuals involved in commissioning, and semi-structured interviews with GPs (n = 31) and health authority managers (n = 41) were undertaken in each of the 28 health authorities. Seventy-five per cent of the health authorities had introduced some form of locality commissioning. Five types of locality commissioning organization were identified on the basis of the level of GP influence over decisions. All GP responders identified benefits resulting from their involvement in the process but only 27% of health authority responders did so. Most benefits related to improved professional relationships, not to service changes. On the whole, locality commissioning does not appear to have resulted in major changes to contracts or services. (+info)
When conversation is better than computation.
While largely ignored in informatics thinking, the clinical communication space accounts for the major part of the information flow in health care. Growing evidence indicates that errors in communication give rise to substantial clinical morbidity and mortality. This paper explores the implications of acknowledging the primacy of the communication space in informatics and explores some solutions to communication difficulties. It also examines whether understanding the dynamics of communication between human beings can also improve the way we design information systems in health care. Using the concept of common ground in conversation, proposals are suggested for modeling the common ground between a system and human users. Such models provide insights into when communication or computational systems are better suited to solving information problems. (+info)
Making health care safer: a critical analysis of patient safety practices.
OBJECTIVES: Patient safety has received increased attention in recent years, but mostly with a focus on the epidemiology of errors and adverse events, rather than on practices that reduce such events. This project aimed to collect and critically review the existing evidence on practices relevant to improving patient safety. SEARCH STRATEGY AND SELECTION CRITERIA: Patient safety practices were defined as those that reduce the risk of adverse events related to exposure to medical care across a range of diagnoses or conditions. Potential patient safety practices were identified based on preliminary surveys of the literature and expert consultation. This process resulted in the identification of 79 practices for review. The practices focused primarily on hospitalized patients, but some involved nursing home or ambulatory patients. Protocols specified the inclusion criteria for studies and the structure for evaluation of the evidence regarding each practice. Pertinent studies were identified using various bibliographic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, PsycINFO, ABI/INFORM, INSPEC), targeted searches of the Internet, and communication with relevant experts. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Included literature consisted of controlled observational studies, clinical trials and systematic reviews found in the peer-reviewed medical literature, relevant non-health care literature and "gray literature." For most practices, the project team required that the primary outcome consist of a clinical endpoint (i.e., some measure of morbidity or mortality) or a surrogate outcome with a clear connection to patient morbidity or mortality. This criterion was relaxed for some practices drawn from the non-health care literature. The evidence supporting each practice was summarized using a prospectively determined format. The project team then used a predefined consensus technique to rank the practices according to the strength of evidence presented in practice summaries. A separate ranking was developed for research priorities. MAIN RESULTS: Practices with the strongest supporting evidence are generally clinical interventions that decrease the risks associated with hospitalization, critical care, or surgery. Many patient safety practices drawn primarily from nonmedical fields (e.g., use of simulators, bar coding, computerized physician order entry, crew resource management) deserve additional research to elucidate their value in the health care environment. The following 11 practices were rated most highly in terms of strength of the evidence supporting more widespread implementation. Appropriate use of prophylaxis to prevent venous thromboembolism in patients at risk; Use of perioperative beta-blockers in appropriate patients to prevent perioperative morbidity and mortality; Use of maximum sterile barriers while placing central intravenous catheters to prevent infections; Appropriate use of antibiotic prophylaxis in surgical patients to prevent postoperative infections; Asking that patients recall and restate what they have been told during the informed consent process; Continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions (CASS) to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia; Use of pressure relieving bedding materials to prevent pressure ulcers; Use of real-time ultrasound guidance during central line insertion to prevent complications; Patient self-management for warfarin (Coumadin) to achieve appropriate outpatient anticoagulation and prevent complications; Appropriate provision of nutrition, with a particular emphasis on early enteral nutrition in critically ill and surgical patients; and Use of antibiotic-impregnated central venous catheters to prevent catheter-related infections. CONCLUSIONS: An evidence-based approach can help identify practices that are likely to improve patient safety. Such practices target a diverse array of safety problems. Further research is needed to fill the substantial gaps in the evidentiary base, particularly with regard to the generalizability of patient safety practices heretofore tested only in limited settings and to promising practices drawn from industries outside of health care. (+info)
The implications of health sector reform for human resources development.
The authors argue that "health for all" is not achievable in most countries without health sector reform that incorporates a process of coordinated health and human resources development. They examine the situation in countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the World Health Organization. Though advances have been made, further progress is inhibited by the limited adaptation of traditional health service structures and processes in many of these countries. National reform strategies are needed. These require the active participation of health professional associations and academic training institutions as well as health service managers. The paper indicates some of the initiatives required and suggests that the starting point for many countries should be a rigorous appraisal of the current state of human resources development in health. (+info)
A review of neuropsychological services in the United Kingdom for patients being considered for epilepsy surgery.
We report a review of the current practice of neuropsychologists working within epilepsy surgery services. The aim of the review was to examine areas of diversity and consensus across current national service provision and to examine progress in service delivery since a previous survey in 1994. Sixteen centres provided information via a questionnaire on three areas of clinical practice: pre- and post-surgery neuropsychological protocols; the intracarotid sodium amytal protocol; patient and family expectations and psychological health, in addition to examining aspects of the context of clinical practice such as the role and experience of the psychologist and future service priorities. Findings of the review suggest that, whilst progress has been made towards fulfilling the recommended guidelines for services, there remain a number of areas for development in terms of the provision of a consistent nationwide service delivery approach. Cognitive assessment and the ICSA procedure remain essential components of the neuropsychology service. Assessment of psychological health and quality of life is now carried out by a growing number of centres, although these remain areas for further development. Consensus was found in terms of the need to establish centres of excellence, and to develop appropriate training for neuropsychologists in the field. (+info)